Research from the American Academy of Pediatrics has found that adolescents are biologically programmed to sleep longer than adults.
Depriving children of sleep can wreak havoc on their academic performance.
Getting enough sleep is important for students’ health and safety and may help them stay alert in their studies.
There is a saying by Benjamin Franklin: “Early to bed early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.”
In Malaysia, my grandson’s primary school starts at 7.30am and ends at 12.50pm.
That means a child aged 6 to 7 has to get up before 6am to get ready for school.
The school bus picks him up at 6.15am and by the time he reaches school, it is 7.25am and he has to rush into school with his heavy school bag before the bell rings.
School ends at 12.50pm and by the time he rushes to board the bus it’s 1.15pm.
Again, the school bus takes him around to let off other children and, so, he reaches home around 2pm. After a bath and lunch, he has to get ready for religious class.
The transporter picks him up at 3pm for his class, which starts at 3.30pm and ends at 5.30pm.
He reaches home at 6.20pm, throws down his school bag and plays with his pet cat, watches TV or plays with his video games before his elder sister orders him to take a bath and get ready for maghrib prayers and dinner.
He does his homework after dinner, and when he finishes, he watches TV or plays video games until his parents return and order him to bed.
In bed, he continues to play games on his handphone until he falls asleep late at night.
He has only about seven hours of sleep when the experts say that a child needs nine to 10 hours to keep him healthy and alert for his academic performance.
The average child has a busy day. There is school, playing with friends, co-curriculum practice, religious class, prayer, homework, TV and video games.
At the end of the day, his body needs a break. Sleep allows his body to rest for the next day.
Sleep is more important than we think.
Everything that is alive needs sleep to survive. Can we imagine a time when we didn’t get enough sleep?
That heavy groggy feeling is awful and when we feel that way, we are not at our best. We feel tired, cranky, stressed or can’t think clearly, and find it hard to follow instructions.
Let us look at our school system.
Why do we have two session schools, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, instead of one?
Obviously, there are not enough schools and teachers. I feel the government should build more schools, teachers training colleges, hostels for rural schoolchildren and teachers who have to walk for kilometres or make trips on sampan to cross rivers.
We should adopt the Western or developed countries’ school system, which starts at 8.30am or 9am and ends at 3.30pm or 4pm, with half an hour’s lunch break.
This system includes school work, religious classes and co-curriculum activities.
This will give children enough time to sleep at night. However, parents must be strict with their children.
All smartphones, laptops, video games, gadgets, tablets and computers, must be left in the living room. TV and radio, and lights in their room, must be switched off by 10pm. Nor Shahid Mohd Nor Petaling Jaya NST Letters 14 August 2015